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Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited


by Evelyn Waugh

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Voyage and Return

Anticipation Stage and ‘Fall’ into the Other World

Charles seeks a "low door in the wall" as an entrance to an "enchanted garden." Then he meets Sebastian.

The ‘other world’ here is a metaphorical one, and consists largely of Sebastian’s appreciation for beauty. It all begins with the trip to the botanical gardens. Of course, Brideshead Castle plays a large role in constituting this ‘other world’ as well.

Initial Fascination or Dream Stage

Charles is captivated by Sebastian, his eccentricities, and the world he lives in, particularly Brideshead.

As a burgeoning artist, it makes sense that Charles would be so taken in by the splendor of Brideshead Castle. He spends pages describing its design, architecture, and furnishings.

Frustration Stage

Lady Marchmain’s machinations, Sebastian’s drinking, Samgrass’s general existence

The perfect world starts to crumble when Charles realizes the extent to which religion and family torment Sebastian. He chooses to side with his friend, which means making a temporary enemy of Lady Marchmain. Samgrass frustrates matters further, especially since he imposes restrictions for the boys even at Oxford.

Nightmare Stage

Charles is carrying on an affair with Julia and may be cheating Bridey out of his rightful inheritance.

Charles has become a part of the world of Brideshead Castle, but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. He senses a darker side to himself correlating to what he discovered as the darker element of this ‘other world.’

Thrilling Escape and Return

After Julia breaks up with Charles, he converts to Catholicism and joins the army.

Charles ‘escapes’ the world of Brideshead and returns to reality, leaving the Flyte family behind him completely. The interpretation of this conclusion as an ‘escape’ is certainly subject to debate, since he was really more evicted than anything else. It’s also subject to debate whether or not leaving was a positive thing for Charles, or an unhappy bit of tragedy.

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